True to form, Cost Plus
Revenues increased precisely as much as the company had already announced: 7%, to $367 million, in the fourth quarter. Profits missed the mark by a penny -- Cost Plus had guided investors to expect $0.98 per share. In fact, the number was $0.97. Same-store sales declined 2.1%.
Disappointing as these Q4 numbers were, however, each of them reflects an improvement over the company's results for the year -- suggesting that Cost Plus may be leading the pack of treasure-hunt home furnishers out of their industry-wide slump. For 2005 as a whole, Cost Plus' sales also increased 7%, but profits declined 32%, to $0.92 per diluted share in total. And same-store sales? Those declined 2.6%. Relative to its performance for the year, therefore, there were big improvements in Q4 on all fronts.
The fact that inventories finally began to fall (albeit just 0.1%, year over year) at Cost Plus is also encouraging. In recent quarters, inventories had been rising at roughly three times the rate of sales gains. Even a slowing of that trend would have been welcome news last week. Yet Cost Plus appears to have stopped the rising tide of unwanted and unmovable goods in its tracks.
Now contrast these results with, for example, the numbers that Restoration Hardware
Best of the best
Meanwhile, more traditional home furnishing retailers are doing just fine, thank you very much. Bed Bath & Beyond
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Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above.